Browsing Doctoral Theses by Authors
Brandom and Hegel on Objectivity, Subjectivity and Sociality: A Tune Beyond Us, Yet OurselvesZuidervaart, Lambert; Koslowski, P.; DeMoor, Michael James; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2011-07)This dissertation is an exposition and critique of Robert Brandom's theory of discursive objectivity. It discusses this theory both within the context of Brandom's own systematic philosophical project and, in turn, within the ideas and questions characteristic of the Kantian and post-Kantian tradition in German philosophy. It is argued that Brandom's attempt to articulate a theory of the objectivity of discursive norms (and hence also of the content of discursive attitudes) resembles J.G. Fichte's development of themes central to Kant's philosophy. This "Fichtean" approach to the problem of objectivity is then compared and contrasted to that of G.W.F. Hegel. Though Brandom, Fichte and Hegel share the desire to derive an account of the conditions of objectivity from the social character is discursive practices, Hegel offers a version of this project that differs with respect to the nature of self-consciousness, sociality and truth. It is then argued that Brandom's theory suffers significant internal inconsistencies that could be avoided by adopting a more "Hegelian" approach to these three themes. More specifically, Brandom's own project requires that he recognize the necessity and irreducibility of firstperson and second-person discursive attitudes, as well as that he recognize the role of "I-We" social practices for discursive objectivity. Furthermore, he must include in his explanations some form of natural teleology and hence he must abandon his deflationary approach to semantic explanation. However, Brandom's methodological and metaphysical commitments prevent him from doing so.
Foucault, Levinas and the Ethical Embodied SubjectZuidervaart, Lambert; Lok, Wing-Kai; Goris, W.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2011-07-05)This dissertation attempts to interrogate whether the postmodern anti-essentialist approach to the body can truly recognize the ethical value of the body. For the postmodernists, the value of the human body has long been repressed by Cartesian rationalism and dualism that privileges the mind over the body. Dualism is a form of reductionism that reduces either the mind to the body or the body to the mind. It not only fails to recognize an interaction between mind and body, but also privileges one side at the expense of the other. For instance, rationalism is a dualist reductionism since it always explains the body and matter in terms of mind or reason. Thus, dualism not only refers to a split or separation between mind and body, but also refers to a reductive relation between mind and body.
Narrative companionship: philosophy, gender stereotypes, and young adult literatureZuidervaart, Lambert; Musschenga, A. W.; Van Dyk, Tricia Kay; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2016-03)This dissertation contends that North American culture is in the grip of a reductionism that neglects plurality while seeking after pseudo-universality and pseudoindividuality, exemplified by the apparently contradictory tendencies to take as normative what can be generalized and to deny universally applicable normativity. I pay special attention to gender stereotypes, in which the particular (individual) becomes irrelevant, ignored, or perceived as a threat unless it can be treated as part of the general (stereotype). I argue that philosophical fiction—and, in particular, young adult fiction— contributes to a principled plurality in both lived and academic philosophy. It does so through its imaginative power to enlarge perspectives, criticize from the margins, and galvanize readers to engage with injustice. I focus on young adult fiction because of its wide reach, relevance for ethical formation, and exceptional tendency to question stereotypical understandings of human existence. After explicating the distinction between lived and academic philosophy and situating my project in the larger conversation about fiction and philosophy, I argue for the ethical significance of philosophical interaction with story. In conversation with Martha C. Nussbaum and Hannah Arendt, I draw together three themes—the integrality of form and content, the ability of storytelling to act as critical thinking in context, and the key role of particularity in the context of plurality—in order to emphasize the need to approach fiction in its intrinsic plurality without losing the possibility of shared criteria. A causal model is insufficient in this regard. Drawing on Lambert Zuidervaart’s conception of imaginative disclosure, I show that art both suggests and requires interpretation and that fiction’s ethical contribution to philosophy needs to be understood as thoroughly hermeneutical. I settle on “narrative companionship,” a variation of Wayne C. Booth’s metaphor of stories as friends, as a helpful noncausal metaphor for interaction with fiction. Then I seek to demonstrate the fruitfulness of this metaphor, in contrast to academic philosophy’s traditional approaches to fiction as either a tool or an example, by commenting on several stories that have informed my own lived philosophy.